Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged Monday that Japan will "take the lead" in efforts to achieve a carbon-free Asia as he spoke at a multinational forum focused on discussing decarbonization measures in Tokyo.

Kishida said Japan will try to create a huge "decarbonization market" capable of attracting investment from around the world to Asia, adding that reducing carbon dioxide emissions is a "common challenge" for the region.

A joint statement issued after the first-ever summit of the Asia Zero Emission Community, or AZEC, said the leaders agreed to pursue decarbonization through "diverse" and "practical" pathways, depending on the "circumstance and different starting point of each country."

The inaugural summit of the Asia Zero Emission Community, or AZEC, is held at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Dec. 18, 2023. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

In his speech, Kishida said 4 quadrillion yen ($28 trillion) is estimated to be required for decarbonizing Asia, while promising to establish a new organization to support AZEC members in implementing necessary policies for carbon neutrality.

Japan, nine states from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations except Myanmar, and Australia attended Monday's gathering.

In the statement, the participants also confirmed their cooperation on maintaining economic growth and ensuring energy security as well as cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

The meeting took place a day after Japan and ASEAN held a special summit to commemorate 50 years of their friendship and cooperation.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Myanmar, which has been under military rule since a February 2021 coup, was not invited to the Japan-ASEAN summit and is not an AZEC member.

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